Idaho's highway performance ranking slips
A report released last month showed that Idaho has slipped four places, from 10th to 14th, in overall performance of its transportation system.
The 17th annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems (1984-2006) analyzes the condition and performance of the U.S. state-owned road system. Los Angeles-based research institution, The Reason Foundation, published the report based on the analysis of authors David T. Hartgen, Ph.D. and Ravi K. Karnam.
Idaho’s decline from the top 10, where it traditionally placed, reflects, in part, deteriorating pavement condition. Only 15 percent of the state’s highways were rated deficient in 2002; last year the pavement deficiency grew to 19 percent and may continue to escalate without the infusion of additional funds for highway preservation and restoration.
The national study, sometimes referred to as the Hartgen report, tracks the performance of the state-owned roads from1984 to 2006, based on 12 indicators. They cover highway revenues and expenditures, pavement and bridge condition, congestion, accident rates and narrow lanes. It is based on data that states provide to the federal government.
“The nation’s continuing trend of generally improving highway performance from 1998 to 2003 was re-established in 2005 and continued in 2006,” the report indicates. “Six of seven key performance indicators improved between 2005 and 2006…
“Although highway revenues and disbursements increased only modestly from the prior year (2.0 percent and .7 percent, respectively), highway funds directed to the pavement increase about 8.6 percent for capital and bridge work and about 7.1 percent for maintenance. However, administrative costs increased even faster, at about 10.4 percent. For the first time, administrative costs are more than 7 percent of highway costs.
“Despite welcome progress, the study highlights continuing problems,” its authors contend. “Just under one-quarter of all bridges remains deficient; 50 percent of urban interstates remain congested; accident rates are stubbornly high; and substantial urban interstate mileage remains in poor condition. The recent sharp increases in highway construction costs mean that fewer repairs can be made from the same dollars.”
Eight of the states finishing higher than Idaho showed performance improvements. North Dakota retained its top ranking while Montana moved from fifth to second in overall performance. Other states in the top 10 include:
The bottom of the list included 40, Louisiana; 41, Florida; 42, Michigan; 43, Massachusetts; 44, California; 45, New York; 46, New Hampshire; 47, Hawaii; 48, Rhode Island; 49, Alaska; and 50, New Jersey.
Among Idaho’s other neighboring states, Oregon was 11th, Nevada was 20th, Utah was 25th, and Washington was 39th. All four were lower in the 2006 report than the previous year.
Where Idaho ranked among the 50 states in the performance indicators: